Hey Fairy-Pants, Shut Your Face!

Or How Box Breathing Can Help You Manage Holiday Stress

We knew we were in for it in 2020, what with the election heading toward us like a freight train. However, we didn’t realize the other stressors which would run through our civilization: marches for social justice as fires raged and hurricanes blew and disease spread through our communities.

Now in the last month of 2020, the election drama drags on. Those calls for social justice are beginning to make a light scratch in the wall around systemic racism. Vaccines have been announced which seem miraculous in their arrival. The light at the end of the tunnel appears to be actually a celebration of the sun and nature instead of another forest bursting into flames.

Plus it’s the December holiday season. Many people have already erected their Christmas trees, strung fairy lights across their railings and mantles, begun crafting gifts, and planned socially distanced cocktails with friends.

Meanwhile, I feel like I’m stacking a pile of concrete blocks to serve as a shelter for my family and a fairy has danced up to me, perched on top of the one in my hands, and said, “Why don’t you want to have any fun?”

Yep. I can already feel the stress rising this holiday season. But I know a few ways to deal with it, and I’m going to share them as we travel together through this crazy season.

How to Do Box Breathing

Breathing is something we forget to do, and it is our number one method to release tension. This technique, “Box Breathing,” can be activated in a moment, calming your body, settling you into a meditative state, and encouraging relaxation. You can use it as you go to sleep, as you meditate, or even in the bathroom at the office after a particularly difficult meeting.

Here’s how it works: Settle yourself in a comfortable position and place. You can do this seated or lie down. Make sure you are in a position that you can easily hold for a couple of minutes.

Inhale and fill your lungs, feeling your chest and belly fill with air. Now, exhale and push all of the air out of your body. Begin.

Inhale for four seconds.
Hold your breath for four seconds.
Exhale for four seconds.
Hold your breath for four seconds.

Repeat this process at least four times. (Why four? It’s easy to remember since everything is four – four steps, four seconds, four times!)

Feel your body slow down and fall into this new rhythm, relaxing and embracing the oxygen flowing in and out of your lungs.

Repeat this process whenever you feel the need.

This technique allows me to open my eyes and look at my world with joy, to inhale the beauty and wonder, and to exhale with rejoicing.

And now, I can begin decorating my house.

See, Little Miss Fairy-Pants? I do want to have fun!